A winter break in Iceland: driving the famous Golden Circle


Check out our self-drive of Iceland’s Golden Circle, where we visited the top sites such as Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area and Gullfoss waterfall. Here’s the lowdown on the final part of our trip.

After heading off later than expected the day before, we woke up bright and early on our fourth day in Iceland, with a plan in mind. We grabbed a bunch of road trip snacks from the supermarket next door to the hotel, loaded up the map and got on the road.

Leaving early actually meant we got lucky as we got to view the sunrise as we drove out of Reykjavík – and spotted a small layby hill area where another car had stopped. We spontaneously stopped too to drink in the wonderful view and take some photos – which I’ll forever treasure. I think this is one of my favourite moments from our holiday because it was unplanned and we were just really lucky to get these photos.

Read more: A winter break in Iceland: traversing Southern Iceland

A stunning sunrise spotted on the outskirts of Reykjavik
A photo of my boyfriend and I in front of one of Iceland's beautiful sunrises
A beautiful sunrise in Iceland

Aren’t they just stunning?!

Visiting Thingvellir National Park

Then it was onwards to our first main stop: Thingvellir National Park. I loved it here and we spent a good few hours wandering around, but I do wish we’d had more time to explore properly and learn more about its history. For example, the park is home to waterfalls, scenic drives and canyons – and you can walk between two continental plates! I think we did the latter, but I didn’t really realize what I was looking at at the time.

We could have spent an entire day here really. What I also loved was as we got closer, we noticed before we even entered the main part of the park there were so many tiny cute car parks along the roadside where you could park up and enjoy the view. I don’t know what it was but the spaces for just eight or so cars marked out on the ground was incredibly cute I found!

Stop one on driving Iceland's Golden Circle: Thingvellir National Park
My boyfriend at Thingvellir National Park, Iceland
A quirky church spotted at Thingvellir National Park during our trip around Iceland's Golden Circle
A selfie of my boyfriend and I at Thingvellir National Park!

Finding Iceland’s Geysir hot springs

Next, we drove up to the Geysir hot springs – which were pretty cool! It was very crowded though and once you saw them explode a couple of times, there wasn’t really much else to see. But it is one of the main stops of Iceland’s Golden Circle, so I’m still glad we visited. So we watched them for about twenty minutes before ducking into the nearby shop/restaurant to mooch at what was on sale.

I didn’t really get many great photos at all!

The Geysir hot springs are another popular spot on Iceland's Golden Circle

Being amazed by Iceland’s Gullfoss Falls

Our final stop for the day was Gullfoss waterfall – which was quite possibly one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen in all my life. It was windy and cold and so we didn’t get to stay long – but it was beyond worth it. I’m also really glad we left this stop until last as it was by far the most beautiful out of everything else we’d seen along the Golden Circle.

A friend of mine saw it a few years back and cried because it was so pretty – and honestly, I can’t blame her! It’s so easy to forget that our planet is home to such beautiful sites. As always, my photos don’t do it justice, but still.

A romantic photo taken at the viewing point overlooking Gullfoss Falls
Gullfoss Falls in all their glory!

If there’s absolutely one thing you must see when you come to Iceland and must make time for when driving the Golden Circle – make it this.

Despite a couple of stops on the way home, we made it back before it got dark. At one point, we pulled over and there was just snow everywhere – no matter what way we turned. It was another beautiful site!

Snow everywhere on Iceland's Golden Circle

We concluded our day of driving Iceland’s Golden Circle with dinner and cocktails at Bastard Brew and Food (it quickly became a firm favourite of ours in Reykjavík), and an early night!

That’s more or less a wrap on our time spent in Iceland. Obviously, we had a further day spent exploring Reykjavík, which I already talked about in this post here, and our final morning we visited The Blue Lagoon – but I’ll do a separate blog post about that.

Our time in Iceland was, in short, amazing. Even two/three months on as I continue to write these posts, I honestly still cannot believe I’ve had the opportunity to explore somewhere so stunning. Looking back at those photos now, I feel so lucky and like it was almost a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Iceland was without a doubt one of the best trips of my life. Though it was pricey – and we had to budget well in advance to ensure we got to do everything we wanted to – I wouldn’t have changed any of it.

Except, maybe, to stay longer!

And the fact that we even got to see the Northern Lights very faintly is just the cherry on top.

I hope one day we can return and explore more of what the beautiful country has to offer.

Have you enjoyed reading about our journey across Iceland? Have you been inspired by any of the posts I’ve shared? Let me know – I appreciate all comments you leave me.

A self-drive tour of Iceland's Golden Circle
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